Author Topic: CDbaby vs TuneCore?  (Read 11575 times)

Stellardrone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
    • Stellardrone's official website
CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« on: August 20, 2012, 04:43:34 PM »
Edited topic.


Question may sound stupid, but I checked only today the requirements for that and the best way would be going with a third party (cdbaby, tunecore etc.) But would these ~50 dollars a year pay off or not so much? When you think about it, it's not that big amount of money to invest, but to me, even for a year it's quite much, unless it was possible to distribute all my albums for that price, then it would be totally worth a try, even if it didn't pay off. I know it all comes down to a fan base, but still, I saw many obscure artists selling there and was interested to give it a try myself.

Also, how about you guys, who sell on cdbaby, tunecore and elsewhere, any losses, pros and cons?

P.S. only now noticed the difference between cdbaby and tunecore. Former takes commisions, but require only one time payment for an album, the latter do not take commisions but you have to pay every year to keep album live.


I checked on google all the pros and cons, but left undecided.

P.S.S. What CDbaby doesn't tell is that the actuall price is not 49$ for an album, but 49$ + 20$ for stupid bar code. Just found out when tried to register. So I won't be able to sell music even digitally without this bar code? I guess tunecore is more transparent in this regard, they offer it for free, so they don't have hiden charges unlike CDbaby.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 08:47:50 PM by Stellardrone »

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 04:46:43 AM »
If you're selling smaller numbers - CD Baby is the way to go.  They never hid the $20 charge before so maybe it's more hidden now?  I don't know - they've always been very upfront on costs and a lot of options. 

Tunecore has a yearly recurring fee...  you start building your sales over years and multiple releases - with tunecore it costs to keep the older titles up.  With cd baby - they are already there.

Think about how you want to release...

Bandcamp -  probably best deal around for selling files in all formats - they take a percentage of sales.  Only for sale through their site - but widgets allow you to put your album for sale anywhere.  People have to find you.   You do have to sell a small number of albums before they'll allow you to upload really big sized files (so don't make a one track dronescape of 70 minutes be your first bandcamp album - make it your 2nd album... ;-)


CD Baby - upfront setup fee...  but possible to distribute to a ton of digital stores - iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, etc...   No recurring fee.  CD Baby will also stock, sell, ship your physical cd / cdr's.

Tunecore - upfront fee -  tons of digital stores in an "a la carte" fashion (it can add up super fast...) - Recurring yearly charge - no CD.


So here's my recommendation... 

Bandcamp if you only want to sell files directly.  No upfront fee.  Really nice service.  nice widgets.

CD Baby if you want iTunes, etc. and don't expect to sell all that many copies.  Nice widget (not as good as bandcamp)

Tunecore - best if you can really push through the product - and remember to save up for the yearly fees.  I have the least experience with tunecore so take my comments with a grain of salt, please.

With my label, Relaxed Machinery, I chose CD Baby back in late 2009 because when I compared them side by side - CD Baby had the best offering for selling ambient albums that might sell only a few copies a month or per year.   What tends to happen is a 2nd or 3rd album might get some listeners and people go back and buy the first 2 albums.  Kind of that "established" artist thing, finding an audience, etc...   Tunecore would've killed any sales we made.

What I did was create an Excel spreadsheet charting all the fees across multiple years to arrive at the decision - also the option of physical copies didn't hurt - but I haven't used it.

Feel free to ask any more questions.  There are a lot of label owners and artists here!





John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Stellardrone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
    • Stellardrone's official website
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 05:42:58 AM »
Thanks for the reply, jkn,

I am on bandcamp for over a year now and I like the service, but I'd also like to be on iTunes and some other places, and the only option is to choose third party distributor, and now have to decide between CDBaby and TuneCore (as it offers 50% discount for first year, that is only 25$).

So I am only concerned about digital releases so CDBaby's physical CDs do not interest me and I highly doubt that in far future I will change my mind. I checked some other distributors too, but so far, I like best what TuneCore and CDBaby has to offer. What I dislike about CDBaby (and bandcamp) though is that they take percentage of the revenue, and this percentage is much higher if an album is bought directly from CDBaby. On top of that, when they promote their service, they mention only 49$ per album in their ads, but they do not mention, that artist will have to pay additional 20$ for barcode, one only discovers it when tries to sign up. So that changed the rules of a game for me.

While TuneCore, even with annual charge of 49$ offers free barcodes, plus lets you keep all your revenue.

I did a math:

Either way, an artist has to sell at least tens of albums (more than 10) in a first year so that they would pay off for him, same with CDBaby, same with TuneCore. So imagine if an artist fails and his music doesn't interest other people: on CDBaby he loses 49+20=69$, while on TuneCore it's 49$ (ignoring the fact that until Aug 22 they offer 50% discount). Only plus, that on CDBaby they stay forever, so it's possible for them to start magically selling after few years...

Furthemore, I disagree with your point that if an artist is selling smaller numbers CDBaby is better, I think it's quite the same with TuneCore. Depending on what number we are talking about, if it is less than 10 albums per year, he practically doesn't earn anything with CDBaby (at least comparing the first year for both distributors). If we remove the 69$ fee for an album (when CDBaby states it's only 49$ which isn't true) and add 9% of commission, the profit can barelly pay off that one time fee. Yes again, album stays on CDBaby and other stores forever, that's a huge plus. But now compare with TuneCore: if an artist sells less than ten albums in a first year, he doesn't lose, but doesn't win either, as the revenue will cover his first years fee only. So in that sense they are very similar distributors. It's easy to lose with either of them.

But the reason I am on a fence is that for now the first album will cost me only 25 dollars, so I think it's worth the risk. If by the end of a first year I will see no progress, I will terminate the contract and they won't take money from me for the second year. I will lose only 25 dollars, but that's unlikely, as some people expressed interest in my music being sold on iTunes (mostly americans).


(feel free to correct me where I am wrong, because I really wanna make an informed decision)

P.S. I would agree, that for a record label CDBaby is better choice though.

P.S.S. so over all, until august 22 (few hours left) I have a pretty good deal for a first album. No commissions plus 25$ or 9 to 25% plus 69$.

But yeah, if I decided to upload my full discography, I would choose CDBaby over TuneCore, but I don't have that much money and if I did it wouldn't pay off even in a second year or third year probably. I would be interested in the experience of the other artists though.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 05:49:13 AM by Stellardrone »

ffcal

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 854
    • View Profile
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 07:36:34 AM »
"Only plus, that on CDBaby they stay forever, so it's possible for them to start magically selling after few years..."

I wouldn't underestimate this point.  Having a decent back catalogue can in the long run give you more visibility and street cred (it also shows a commitment to your craft).  In getting started, any of these options involves a relatively small amount of money, but you should also consider the gazillion or so bedroom musicians who are thinking the same thing, if you are concerned about distinguishing yourself from the others.  Having said that, sales were probably the last thing on mind when I started releasing music.

Forrest

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 07:42:41 AM »
I think you've found your answer.    You have to do what's right for you!

One small minor addition (and it won't affect your decision) is on my label - each artist releases indipendently - so they have their own cd baby accounts.   We "self release... together".  I know from several artists that release consistently over time the earlier albums sell more with each later album... it's a slow building process - gaining a fanbase - gaining people's trust in your work - and eventually selling.  Very hard right out of the gate.

I was going to do a quick check of what tunecore's pricing includes now - but I found it really difficult viewing on my phone to see what it was.  It used to be a couple years ago that you had to pick each service you wanted to be on and pay for each separately - in iTunes case that was at least 5 different versions of iTunes so it added up fast.  But now they've changed the pricing structure so it looks like it might be a 'get it all' type price... again - can't tell...   I think cd baby and tunecore could both get better FAQ's... ;-)

Regardless - I think you've found what fits you best.  Go for it and good luck!

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2012, 07:43:35 AM »
Forrest just said it perfectly.   Including the sales last thing on my mind part as well...   for me.
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

petekelly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 528
    • View Profile
    • LuminaSounds
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 08:23:21 AM »
From my experience, I recommend CD Baby. I've paid the set-up fee each time I've released an album so it didn't seem too bad, as opposed to (say) paying for 10 albums all at once.

I should say though that, just because an album goes up on iTunes, emusic etc. it doesn't necessarily mean it will sell. I have a side-project called 'Formbank', there's three albums up on all the major download sites from that project and I sell very few downloads from that one. The Igneous Flame stuff does sell, but it has taken time.

Something to bear in mind, is the that if you were to release a pressed CD, you're talking lots of money, limited CD-R runs aren't cheap either, so in the scheme of things I don't think their set-up fee is too bad. Also, as Forrest says, having a back catalogue up on CD Baby shows a commitment to the work (as does owning the barcode ISRC thingy). I would suspect one of the reasons for the proliferation of free releases out there is the reluctance to pay such fees.

Of course the sales are important, how can I run my private Lear Jet otherwise ? - only joking...

Stellardrone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
    • Stellardrone's official website
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 11:42:19 AM »
Thank you, guys. I think it all comes down to this: CDBaby offers lesser risk but lesser pay off (at least in a first year), while TuneCore is about bigger risk but bigger pay off, since they do not take commissions from sales.

However, if one signs up with CDBaby, he is bound by it forever, but at the same time they keep your music forever at their site (because of 9 to 25 percents of commission, depending where the most sales are coming from.)

At the end of the day, CDBaby is better than TuneCore longterm wise.

When I started, I wasn't even intending to sell either, as it was and is just my hobby, despite my wishful thinking producing music as full time job in a far future. Even my album on bandcamp are set to "pay what you want" model for that reason. I was and am concerned more about overall visibility than monetary profit. But seeing, that my albums sell even when it isn't required to pay for them I thought why not just try a fixed price with some other distributor.

So I am still on a fence. I really wanna try this thing with TC (because of current discount), on the other hand, I want my music to stay on sites that I choose to sell from for as long as possible, and CDB is a way to go for that matter.


Thanks again for replies. If I want to choose TC, I gotta think fast, but with CDB I can wait few months, as I doubt their fees will get bigger any time soon.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 11:44:28 AM by Stellardrone »

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2012, 05:10:21 AM »
If you're willing to wait - CD Baby runs discount coupons now and then.  Sign up for an account (doesn't mean you have to upload an album right away) to get on their mailing list.   

I do really believe it's the way to go...  combination of cd baby (for digital distribution) and bandcamp. 

While my personal sales through all the various distributors was kind of funny to see...  those pennies started adding up.   My last payment had a ton of pennies from various 'cloud' services (spotify as an example) - but a $1 here -  $1 there - 50 cents here... 3 cents there...  it ended up being a nice little addition of $50 to my account and I bought some albums with the proceeds....  ;-)



John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Stellardrone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
    • Stellardrone's official website
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2012, 05:52:44 AM »
Yeah, I created an account on CDB too. Actually I was reading about online distributors for two days now... While CDB isn't the cheapest, they most definitelly are most reliable, judging by random reviews. So in a future I am considering putting my whole discography on CDB unless I find something better.

Yesterday I found out about RouteNote's service, which sounded too good to be true. I mean, they are like Bandcamp and free (keep 15% commission) but sell on 7 stores including iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. The big downside is that it takes 45 days to retrieve the payment from them and also I saw some complaints about them not putting music on iTunes on time etc. Some guy waited 6 months. Also the minimum amount is 50$. Until your balance reaches it, all money are kept by RouteNote.

So I was right, if a service is cheap, there is probably something fishy going on.

Anyway, I took the offer (25$ per album) by TuneCore and uploaded my latest release to their website. Just gotta make sure to disable auto-renewal, haha.

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2012, 07:39:58 AM »
Good luck!
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Scott M2

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 607
    • View Profile
    • dreamSTATE
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2012, 03:14:40 PM »
BTW - You don't have to use CD Baby's bar code. If you can buy one cheaper from a different source - perhaps your CD Duplicator - then you can just use that.

Stellardrone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
    • Stellardrone's official website
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2012, 02:55:03 AM »
Yes, I found some website earlier which sells bar codes for 10$ or so. But still, it's a matter of principle to me. I hate hidden fees. At very least CDB should advertize their services like this: 49$/album + 20$/barcode. Because without it, those 49$ are no use, you can't even upload your album or pay them 49$ if you do not buy a bar code from them (or from somewhere else). Unless they imply, that every music producer by default has bar code in his pocket somewhere. That's just shady advertizing. Why do other aggregators/distributors manage to offer barcodes for free? And their services are much cheaper than CDBaby's.

« Last Edit: August 23, 2012, 02:56:38 AM by Stellardrone »

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2012, 05:06:53 AM »
I honestly don't see what the hatred for cd baby is for...   It took me two mouse clicks to get their clearly named "PRICING" page which shows what the $20 barcode fee is.

http://members.cdbaby.com/cd-baby-cost.aspx

Pre-paying submission credits is nice too.

All services can be both awesome and a royal pain.   

John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

APK

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2166
    • View Profile
    • DataObscura
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2012, 05:44:35 AM »
What's confusing (misleading) about CD Baby pricing is the many clear statements of $49 to sell digital downloads via iTunes and others ... when in fact it seems you must also have the $20 bar code option as well. So it's really $69.
Unless you already have a bar code of course.

Would also be good if they gave some rough idea of what cut iTunes and others retailers take from the sale price of downloads.
www.dataobscura.com
www.dataobscura.com/apk
The Circular Ruins / Lammergeyer / Nunc Stans

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2012, 06:11:42 AM »
I stand corrected...   
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

petekelly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 528
    • View Profile
    • LuminaSounds
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2012, 08:44:56 AM »
Regarding this Bar-code fee business, when Cd Baby was a CD selling outfit you didn't need a bar-code, it's for the digital distribution thing. My earlier releases had bar-codes ascribed to them by the company who made the discs, so I didn't really notice it. I don't know if they're being disingenuous about it or not, but it seems you need one, one way or another.

As regards how much of a cut iTunes and the like takes, I would image that they decide how much that will be , not the likes of CD Baby and yes, its a pain and contrary to the interests of the artist. 

ffcal

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 854
    • View Profile
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2012, 09:54:23 AM »
As regards how much of a cut iTunes and the like takes, I would image that they decide how much that will be , not the likes of CD Baby and yes, its a pain and contrary to the interests of the artist. 

I think that iTunes/Apple/House of Jobs generally takes something like 30%, though I don't know if they take a smaller cut when there's a middleman.

Forrest

Stellardrone

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
    • View Profile
    • Stellardrone's official website
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2012, 12:14:16 PM »
As far as I know, it's always 30%.

jkn

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2643
  • cake or death? cake please.
    • View Profile
    • Relaxed Machinery
Re: CDbaby vs TuneCore?
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2012, 12:55:02 PM »
Just found this ...  fairly interesting (although a bit of a stretch for my older eyes to read... )

http://sunsetdaily.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/digital-distribution-comparison-sheet/

Until just now I didn't realize that IODA bought IRIS... and The Orchard bought IODA...  so they're all Orchard now.  Does this matter on bit... nah... not really.  ;-)
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei